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Ferguson pledges to play strong team at Hull

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson hit back at claims he will field a weakened team at Hull on Sunday by insisting he would never damage the reputation of the Premier League.

sports Updated: May 23, 2009 01:12 IST

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson hit back at claims he will field a weakened team at Hull on Sunday by insisting he would never damage the reputation of the Premier League.

The newly-crowned champions will travel to Rome next week to begin preparations for their Champions League final against Barcelona on Wednesday.

And speculation has been rife that Ferguson could put out a severely weakened side on the last day of the league season against Phil Brown's relegation-threatened team.

Hull are one point and one place ahead of third-from-bottom Newcastle, while fellow strugglers Sunderland and Middlesbrough are also fighting to preserve their top flight status.

Ferguson admits he will rest some of his most important and influential players for obvious reasons, but insists that the side he does select at the KC Stadium will still be expected to win.

Ferguson, who is expected to include players such as Rio Ferdinand, Wes Brown, Darren Fletcher, Nani and Garry Neville in his line-up, said on Friday: "All the speculation and conjecture, I don't think it has been fair.

"I think it's important to a league that has the best integrity in the world.

"We will play our part in that. No matter which team I will play, I expect us to win.

"Nobody should worry themselves unduly about our intentions on this particular occasion.

"We are expected to win and will go there to win. That's the responsibility we'll always have.

"I did contemplate phoning the three managers involved, Gareth Southgate, Alan Shearer and Ricky Sbragia.

"Then I thought to myself well, Ricky Sbragia worked here and knows this club. He knows exactly what we are going to do.
"Gareth Southgate and Alan Shearer have played against us many times and know exactly what it's like to play against Manchester United.

"So then I dismissed that idea because they must know that we will be doing our best.

"That's always our intention, no matter where we are. To win a game of football.

"The other thing you've got to remember as well is that if I can trust them in a semi-final (of both the League and FA Cups), why can't I trust them on the last game of the season when we've already won the league?

"It's such a natural thing for us, to play players who have represented us in big games before. All the players involved on Sunday will also be going to Rome. They have been part of the squad all season."

Ferguson admitted he was not surprised to see a club of Newcastle's stature struggling in the bottom three of the table with one game remaining.

He added: "The pressure at the bottom never changes. Once the turn of the year comes along and you are down that bottom six or seven or whatever, it's never easy. It's only over the last few years that West Ham have bucked the trend.

"They won seven out of their last nine matches and that was a miracle - for that to happen in the modern game.

"Once you are down at the bottom of this league it's very difficult to get out of it.

"It's no surprise to see some big names down there. It happened to Nottingham Forest, to Newcastle before. It's happened to Manchester United."